We have frozen this blog as a historical, yet informational view at what life is like in the West Indies Mission for all those called to serve. This blog was designed for the families and friends of those missionaries serving in the West Indies Mission from July 2006 to July 2009. Every six weeks, photos taken at zone conference as well as a new slide show including every person baptized were posted on the blog. All of the slide shows are also available on our You Tube channel. The current West Indies Mission blog can be found here. Posts on our missionary experience can be found here and earlier. And finally, if you are a returned missionary who served in the West Indies, there is a current blog for you. Click here or visit westindiesrm@blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

West Indies Mission map


A few of you have asked for a map of the mission. I have been wanting to make a section in the website about the areas in the mission but I just haven't had time yet. I will do it soon. Meanwhile - here is the official map from the missionary department that I will be using. Just click on it to make it bigger and downloadable.

Island Zone Conference - again!

Sorry about no posts for a while - internet was not working at our hotel. But we are now in St Lucia and had the Island Zone Conference yesterday.

We had to change up the order of the zone conferences this transfer so we came back to the islands quickly. The Elders are doing great. Here are a few pictures:

Holding a few great books (Assistants taught an amazing lesson about planning and area books)


Couples like area books too!


Sister Sherwood always makes the most amazing lunches


Youngest - Elder Scott (only out 5 days) and oldest - Elder Heslop (touring with his parents on the way home)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

We're traveling again



After church tomorrow we start traveling again (feels like we just got home). Every six weeks (between transfers) we make the rounds of our very large and spread out mission to hold zone conferences. Here is the zone conference schedule for this transfer period:

July 29 - Island (includes Grenada, St Vincent, and St Lucia)
August 4 - French (includes Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St Martin)
August 8 - Trinidad
August 18 - Suriname (includes French Guiana)
August 20 - Canje Guyana (includes Canje and Berbice zones)
August 22 - Georgetown Guyana (includes Georgetown and Diamond zones)

Note - the French and Suriname zone conferences will be on Mondays this tour - that means that those missionaries may not be able to email on their regular day.

Also, internet is sketchy during parts of the tour so success stories and this blog may get an occasional rest.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Movie Stars?

Someone told me we have movie stars serving in Suriname.

Harry Potter?

Elder Kinghorn


Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings)?


Elder Mecham


Oh - and these two 'movie stars' just happen to be companions.

Look out Suriname!

Not a coincidence

One of the new missionaries, Elder Scott, is assigned to begin his mission serving on the island of St Vincent. Wednesday (transfer day), as he was getting into the car to leave for the airport, two Elders arrived for a quick stop at the mission home. It just 'happened' (I don't believe in coincidences) that one of them was Elder Bowens. He is from St Vincent and was baptized a year and a half ago and is now serving his mission in the West Indies Mission. When they met, Elder Bowens threw his arms around Elder Scott in delight and then proceeded to tell him about all the people he needed to contact on the island.



Here is another fun story about Elder Bowens. He was taught the gospel and helped with his reading skills by West Indies missionary Elder Bishop who later became his very first missionary companion.

A few more fun pictures from transfer day


Tutoring by great departing missionaries:

Trinidad counsel from Elder Slade


Elder Webb with the Guyana group


Surinamers with Elder Boom


Loading up


Speaking Dutch yet?


All packed up and ready to go

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our Pioneer Day Parade

Who says we can't celebrate Pioneer Day in the West Indies!

We were able to catch this 'parade' here in the mission home today

video

It was quite amazing - there was a two-lane highway of tiny ants starting at our front door, running up and across the ceiling, down the hall, into the kitchen, behind the fridge, onto the counter, and all over a piece of chocolate cake sitting on the counter wrapped in foil.

How do they know?

If you watch carefully, you will see that as they meet head on along on the 'highway' they touch faces (or something).

Do you think they are sharing the news or maybe a quick taste of chocolate cake?

Before and After

Before


After


Before


After



Farewell to Elders Heslop, Swain, Clark, Webb, Boom, and Slade - we will miss you!

Comments

I welcome comments on this blog. I think that is a great way for parents and friends of West Indies missionaries to connect. I set it up so I could moderate them (review before publishing) and something went wrong and comments just stockpiled until today. They are all published now. I apologize and hope you will continue to comment. I think I have the system fixed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brand New West Indies Missionaries

Here they are!


Elders Chambers, Huntsman, Tupou, Vernes, Shroath, Scott, Mecham, Holtz


Strolling in the mission home backyard


Assistants, Elder Williamson and Elder Walker with President Robison


Dinner (actually lunch) before going out to work in Trinidad


An evening testimony meeting



And a (very) little time to relax

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Elders are here, new couples are called!

I didn't get a chance to take pictures tonight (I will tomorrow), but just in case any new parents have found this blog - your sons arrived safely.

They are an amazing group! They were so kind and helpful tonight and incredibly excited to be here.

We are thrilled to have them here in the West Indies. Tomorrow, after we feed them a big breakfast they will get some orientation at the office, have a devotional, lunch, and then out to convert the nation of Trinidad (for a few hours)!

We are also excited about two new couples called to serve in the West Indies Mission - Elder and Sister Meyers, who will serve in Guyana, and Elder and Sister Collins, who will serve in Trinidad.

We love couple missionaries - they make this mission soar!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mission Home Firesides


We have a fireside in the mission home every six weeks on the Sunday before transfers. New members, investigators, and their member or missionary friends are invited. Every fireside is a spiritual experience and we have always had someone finish the evening anxious to be baptized. I don't know what will happen because of tonight but the spirit was remarkable.

Generally, President Robison starts by having each guest introduce themselves and then he talks a little about the mission and we show the latest missionary slideshow. After that he gives a short message accompanied by a video clip and then invites certain new members to share their conversion experience and bear their testimonies. That is when the spirit really comes.

We heard three testimonies tonight:
  • A branch president, baptized two years ago who was contacted three different times, years apart, by missionaries and eventually came to church and loved it. After his baptism he was quickly made a counselor and not long after that, the branch president.
  • A young actor, baptized a few months ago who was given a Book of Mormon and taught about the gospel by friends. He said at first he didn't want to read the book but it kept 'calling' to him. When he finally read he felt an incredible peace and kept on reading. He was happy to be meet the missionaries and be baptized. He is now preparing to serve a mission.
  • A PhD student who met and refused missionaries in Trinidad and London over and over again during his life and eventually was contacted two years ago in an internet cafe and agreed to hear a message. The missionaries invited him to church and because of a special dream and a little pushing by the spirit, he attended church and loved it. He was baptized but was offended a few months later and stopped attending (but kept reading the Book of Mormon). Persistent and loving missionaries (and Elder Bednar's talk) helped him come back and tonight he bore a powerful testimony.
After the fireside we ate cookies and visited. I talked to a few new members just baptized yesterday, and some who attended church for the first time today.

I was impressed with one fine young 16 year old baptized a few months ago. He sat in the front row during the fireside, smiled, and glowed. He wants to go on a mission when he is old enough.

I asked him, "Do you know how special you are?"

He said, "Special?"

I asked him, "How many 16 year old boys do you think there are in Trinidad?"

"Thousands"

"What do you think most of them are doing right now? Yet here you are at a fireside, committed to serving the Lord. That makes you special."

He grinned and said, "No one has ever told me I am special before."

The testimonies tonight were powerful. We had lots of investigators in attendance and if they felt what I felt, they are begging the missionaries to get their baptisms scheduled, right now!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Working with youth

A number of the missionary couples serving in the West Indies are doing wonderful work with the youth in their areas. Here are two examples:

Elder and Sister Sherwood, Castries St Lucia



(from Sister Sherwood's blog) Marlon, our latest baptism, is a nice young man. He lives with his mother and step father. His step father has been very mean to him and they have no relationship at all. He bore his testimony the day after his baptism and said his baptism day was the best day of his life, one, he was baptized and two, his mother told him that she loved him!!!!

The girl next to him is Rosey. Rosey
is a fun lovin' young woman who is bright and knows a lot about the gospel. Her family is one of the few who actually have Family Home Evening each week. They also read the scriptures together, at Book of Mormon class they always know the answers to all the questions. Surprising facts when you realize that they are being raised by a single mom, Adriana, who works 2 jobs so she can put food on the table. She is rarely home and Rosey has a lot of adult responsibilities put on her. Amazing family!

The girl on the right is Kacy, an 18 year old who, along with her 2 brothers, Neil and Chad, live with their sister
Vanesta since their mother died 6 years ago. Kacy joined the church last August, has served as Laurel Class President for the last several months and just recently was called as a counselor in the Young Women's Presidency. She has a strong testimony and is such a good girl. What ever she is asked to do, she does to the best of her ability. Against all odds she is keeping the commandments and living a clean life. Love her!!!!

Elder and Sister Williamson - Vieux Fort, St Lucia

Sister Williamson is involved with literacy training

Gregorianna is leaning to read


This is what she made for Sister Williamson after one of their lessons

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Power in that Book


(our granddaughter, Sylie)

I love the Book of Mormon!

The missionaries are great at encouraging those they teach to read daily from the Book of Mormon right away in order to receive a testimony and to stay strong.

It works!

Here are a few stories shared recently by the missionaries. I have dropped in some inspirational Book of Mormon pictures too (not related to the stories).


Elder Fisher, Guyana
Nalika has been reading a few verses at a time from the Book of Mormon between each visit, and since that visit has volunteered several times her testimony that she really feels and believes that Joseph Smith is a true prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. She and her children always remind us to assign something new to read before we leave because they love the book. I know that we can truely draw closer to God by reading and living according to the teachings of the Book of Mormon.

Elder Riding, Suriname
We went by an investigator we haven't been by in a while, and while she was there she recognized the good feelings that came from reading the Book of Mormon. We gave her a homework assignment and I'm excited to teach her more. That's when I feel good- when we feel the power of that book with investigators.

Elder Roberts, Trinidad
This week we have been working with a couple named Travis and Talanna. we gave them a book of mormon and a reading assignment on thursday. instead of reading the assignment that we gave them they decided to start from the beginning. they read the preface to the 1st book of nephi and in the first few words it says the name of lehi's wife sariah, their daughter's name is sariah and they saw that as a sign that they need to read it so they read the first two chapters that night. they have been reading a lot and are already at chapter 13. it was amazing to me the things that the lord does to prompt people to read the book of mormon.

Elder Swain, French Guiana
Olivia and Tmoulsse accepted our teachings and knew immediately the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. When followed up at the next rendez-vous about the Book of Mormon, They responded, 'magic', 'it's simply magic'.

Elder Fox, Trinidad
There's this couple named the Beekies. Sis. Beekie has read through the entire Book of Mormon in just a few weeks and can't wait for baptism, however, her husband hasn't been ready. He was born muslim and was having a hard time understanding the significance of the atonement. Elder Risenmay and I decided to map out a two week plan in which we left a chapter a night about the atonement and then a question he had to answer. We handed him the full 2 week list and commited him to do it. After the lesson we both turned to each other and said "Do you think that was a little overwhelming?" Well we lost contact for about a week and finally met back up. Sis Beekie came out of the house saying "check this out!" Bro Beekie had done it every night and answered the questions! We couldn't believe it. Then we watched "Together Forever" and it really hit him hard in the first segment. He said "That's exactly what we say to each other". His wall has finally been broken and they're getting baptized as a couple this month.

Elder Williams, Martinique
Our success story this week is about an investigator who came to church last week - Christian. A member invited him and the first time we had ever seen him was at church. We tried making an appointment with him but this last week didn't work for him because he was really busy with work, so we gave him a Book of Mormon and a few things to read and got his phone number. We called him up during the week to see how his reading was going and he started going off about how much he loved it. After just a few days he had finished first Nephi and was talking about all of the stories that were in it. He came to church again on Sunday, and after an announcement was made about a Geneology activity he went up and asked for a four generation chart. He doesn't work this week so we're looking forward to seeing him..I know that the lord prepares people to receive the gospel and that member work is the only way to go.








Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dispensations and Apostasy Media

I have had a lot of requests for the information and images I presented during the last Zone Conference tour so I thought I would post them here.

I exported my slides as images and made them into a Picasa slideshow. You can click through them by using the arrows. Clicking on the images takes you to the picasa album where you can download images if you want.

The presentation is a bit misleading without hearing the things we discussed. Here are three points:
  • The early dates are only approximations based on the earlier version of the LDS Bible (BD 'chronology') and the latest research
  • The dispensations depicted are not the only ones that occurred (see BD reference on 'dispensations')
  • There was not complete apostasy between all dispensations. For example, Adam was alive at the same time as Enoch and Enoch was alive with Noah (OT Institute manual charts).
(I made it extra large even though it doesn't fit the page very well)




At the end of the presentation I showed this video from lds.org


video

Sunday, July 13, 2008

French Zone Conference



We just returned from a 12 day tour through the mission and I didn't have internet for the last week - so I need to catch up.

We had our final zone conference of the tour in Guadeloupe last Wednesday. Missionaries flew in from Martinique and St Martin (half French - so we had two English speaking Elders too). The conference was great. The French Elders have a tradition of wearing long-sleeved white shirts so they looked extra sharp. It helps that the Abymes chapel we use is air conditioned (most are not in the West Indies). There are five new Elders serving in Guadeloupe so it was a very young group!

Here are a few pictures from Sister Malmrose's and my cameras:

(sorry - this one's blurry but I didn't want to leave anyone out)





The Elders sang a 'thank you' to the sisters who prepared lunch

video

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunday in French Guiana

We are able to attend both branches:

Kourou


and Cayenne


I watched these two little boys sitting on the front row in Cayenne sacrament meeting. The smaller one spent a long time elaborately retying his tie. Ties are definitely not natural apparel for little boys and I wondered who it was that taught him so well. I asked him later and he said, "my brother". Good brother.


Aren't these multicolored flowers in front of the church gorgeous?


We finished our day with an incredible experience. We went and visited one of the 'lost sheep' members and found a fine woman who heads a foundation to protect and care for three-toed sloths (native to the amazonian rain forests and found in French Guiana). Being a former zoo-keeper and student of zoology, I was thrilled to handle these amazing creatures.



Not being a former zoo-keeper, President Robison wasn't so sure


Scary photo, eh?


We leave for Guadeloupe today (Monday) to hold the last Zone Conference of our tour. It has been extraordinary so far!